Ironically, the VMA was labeled 'elitist' when it expanded


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As one who recorded all the VMA selections committee hearings for almost 30 years, I would like to offer a few comments as a historical perspective.

After the 1952 referendum, when the old political parties were banished and the Village Manager form of government was instituted, a new party was established called the VMA, the Village Manager Association.

A selections committee would be formed to seek out the most qualified citizens to run for office regardless of sex, race, religion, or personal political affiliation.

Originally, members of the selection committee were prominent, dedicated, longtime residents of the village from all walks of life. They worked with a firm determination to find the candidates who would provide the best possible government for this village.

As a result of their efforts, Oak Park prospered under the leadership of the greatest village presidents such as John Donaker, John Gearen, James McClure, John Philbin and Barbara Furlong.

In the contemptible, but successful attempt to destroy the selections process, and, indeed, the VMA, the negative and demeaning term "elitist" was introduced by its enemies and the local press. It is an ugly word, and was used ad nauseam to describe the best, most knowledgable citizens of this town to choose a slate of candidates.

Ultimately, and to its detriment, the VMA surrendered and expanded the selections committee to include ill-informed, short-term citizens as well as those with specific agendas and, alas, as Puck would say, "What fools these mortals be!"

Peggy Studney
Oak Park

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